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Walk on the Wild Side awarded grant for telescopes

Posted on December 22, 2022 by Sunny South News

By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News

Walk on the Wild Side Society (WOWS) has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Lethbridge and Southwestern Community Foundation to fund lakeside trail enhancements through the purchase of two new viewing scopes.

The two new additions will make it easier for users of the walking path to observe nature and wildlife. The scopes will be binocular style and free to use for trail visitors.

Shirley Kiffiak, a member of the WOWS Society said, “this is something people should know about,” noting the organization was “really excited” to be able to add even more value to the pathway.

The pathway includes over two miles of paved trail, a gazebo, viewing platforms, and benches so locals and visitors are able to explore and observe wildlife surrounding the reservoir. The viewing scopes are the second major installation along the walkway this year. In March, an osprey nesting structure was installed in an effort to bring more predators and balance to the area’s ecosystem.

Kiffiak said, “(In) the last two years, 2021 and 2022, WOWS saw much progress in the beautifying of the pathway around the lake making an outing more enjoyable and safer. A nesting platform was installed by Alta-Link in anticipation of a pair of Osprey to settle in, hard surfacing of the trail going northwards, donations of benches, three picnic tables in the quiet area or classroom area, trees, all donated by community-minded people.”

Metal signs displaying pictures of local wildlife, and archways were previously donated by Hank’s Feedmill Service. Kiffiak noted, “there is also a natural garden space tended by local volunteers.”

Kiffiak said the installation of the viewing scopes, “was made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and SW Alberta for $5,000. Thank you to this very valuable organization for their faith in our plans and vision,” adding WOWS had previously received a grant a few years ago courtesy of the Agriculture in the Classroom program amounting to $2,500. The total cost of the viewing scopes was $8,568.

Community Foundation board members, Laurel Van Vaerenbergh and the Honourable Rick Cassen presented WOWS with a cheque and plaque on Dec. 14 in Picture Butte alongside WOWS members. WOWS was one of 27 recipients of the Fall 2022 Community Priorities grant, plus six other organizations that received the Henry S. Varley Fund for Rural Life Grant. In the fall, 2022 funding cycle, the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and southern Alberta awarded $307,970 to 33 organizations. These grants are made possible entirely through donor support.

In a statement announcing the 2022 fall recipients, Community Foundation’s Executive Director, Charleen Davidson said, “We are so happy to award these grants to groups throughout Southwestern Alberta,” and added, “this year has been, and continues to be, challenging for the charitable sector. We are proud to remain a source of financial support during this time of need, and we thank our donors for their continued support of the community through our work.”

WOWS began in the mid-1980s, to work toward building a hard surface walking path to make observing and walking through nature more accessible. The group almost became defunct in 2012, but the project’s resurgence has become a point of pride for many community members. WOWS’ main goal is to develop the path around the reservoir in Picture Butte so the space can be better utilized by residents, visitors, wildlife, and students. May 5, 2022, marked WOWS’ 25th Anniversary as a society.

Kiffiak said the scopes will be installed on the prepared platforms, “thanks again to volunteers,” who continue to support the vision of WOWS.

“WOWS, of course, needs more members, meeting usually the third Thursday of the month as well as financial donations are needed for ongoing plans. All donations can be made to the Town of Picture Butte earmarked for the Walk on the Wildside Society for a tax receipt issued by the Town. Many, many thanks for all our faithful volunteers and donors,” concluded Kiffiak.

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